Dear Pankaj Mishra: Your brand of righteousness is now in the gramophone era

Dear Pankaj Mishra: Your brand of righteousness is now in the gramophone era

The ill-wisher of India, Pankaj Mishra penned an alarmist article on the Bloomberg website which goes back to whip up the usual secularist fear mongering: the template is the same, only the words are altered to suit the occasion. The template? The rise of intolerance in India following the victory of the BJP.

In a departure of sorts, Mishra links it to the historical tragedy of 1984 when thousands of Sikhs were massacred by Congress goons, which came as a reprisal to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Mishra then attempts to draw false parallels as he states:

 With state elections approaching, parts of Delhi are again awash with manufactured hate. The Trilokpuri neighborhood, which witnessed the deaths of hundreds of Sikhs in 1984, recently suffered clashes between Hindus and Muslims, as well as a brutal police crackdown on the minority community.

A key point to note here, and which Mishra hides is that the allegation of police brutality is based on complaint filed by the Social Democratic Party of India which is the political outfit of the Popular Front of India, which has alleged links to Jihadi outfits.

In a charge-sheet filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 21 October 2013, both the PFI and the SDPI were accused of conducting arms training camps across the state of Kerala under the pretence of health awareness camps. On 29 January 2014, four SDPI activists were arrested for murder of two CPI-(M) members at Mangalam, Tirur. SDPI accepted the responsibility after a video of this violent attack was aired on major television channels.

So I find it strange that Mr. Mishra cites the complaint made by a party sympathetic to terror groups. Surely, Mr. Mishra can’t mean that sympathisers of terrorism are preferable to the BJP, a democratically elected national party.

As far as 1984 goes, Mr. Mishra is correct in his claim that the following Lok Sabha elections saw the INC re-elected with a massive mandate but not for the reasons he cites:

Dilip Simeon argues that “the year 1984 set a new standard for the normalisation of brutality and lawlessness” in India. Today many Indians “do not believe that involvement in mass crimes should disqualify anyone from holding executive power. They distinguish ‘development’ from justice, forgetting that ‘development’ without secular norms and lawful governance will lead to tyranny.”  

Before we proceed Mr. Mishra, please read the following from this insightful article:

During his 1984 campaign, Rajiv aggressively raised the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973 of the Akali Dal, which talked of stronger federalism and Sikh autonomy – even though the Dal had long since forgotten about it. Rajiv made it appear as though this was a resolution for complete secession – which the Akalis denied.

Not only that, the Congress campaign was based on creating a fear psychosis among Hindus. Sample a few of its ads from that time:Will Your Grocery List, in the Future, include Acid Bulbs, Iron Rods, Daggers?” Then again, “Will the Country’s Border Finally Move to Your Doorstep?”

One could argue that in the post-Indira assassination phase, these were legitimate fears to address in an election. But here’s the interesting thing: this ad campaign, according to Ajit Balakrishnan, head of Rediffusion, the ad agency that created this campaign, was developed before Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Balakrishnan wrote in his blog (read here) that this communication was developed in the context of those times, when Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka and Sikh separatism in India were top of the mind. He says, “We correctly guessed that, in this era of uncertainty and turmoil, what the newspaper-reading swing voter wanted was the peace and quiet that only a strong and impartial government could provide.”

1984 violence

If you noticed Mr. Mishra, the Grand Old Party tried the same tactic this time with charges of Hindu majoritarianism. However, unlike 1984, people are fortunate to have more access to correct and near-complete information—thanks to the Internet and social media, and Rahul Gandhi—thus foiling the INC’s specious attempts, which had worked so well in the past. Indeed, the 2014 elections was a resounding verdict by the Indian people that they are only concerned with progress and rejected fear mongering.

[pullquote]I find it strange that Mr. Mishra cites the complaint made by a party sympathetic to terror groups.[/pullquote]

At any time the question of 1984 butchery pops up, your camp brings in the 2002 carnage and creates a false parallel. Let me tell apart the two tragedies with this fact:

As per figures given by the UPA Government on 11 May, 2005, a total of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the riots of 2002 in Gujarat. Now this does not include the fateful victims of the Godhra carnage where fifty nine karsevaks including twenty seven women and ten children were burnt to death, and forty eight others were injured.

Now it is correct to speak on behalf of riot victims but I ask you Mr. Mishra why are the Hindus victims absent in your secular defence?

Speaking of deaths did you know in the Delhi carnage of 1984 the number of Hindus killed was zero?

The 1984 carnage in Delhi was what you call a pogrom Mr. Mishra since it was entirely one-sided and the perpetrators were not neo-Hindus but secular  goons of the Congress.

Rajiv Gandhi may not have caused it, but he chose to ignore it becoming complicit in violence.

In case of the present Prime Minister a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team in 2012 declared it found no evidence that Modi had any role in the tragedy, but the Mishras choose to remain blindfolded. Next, Mr. Mishra goes on to say that:

There is one important difference, however. Divide-and-rule is now more than an opportunistic electoral gambit: The extended family of Hindu nationalists seems to be looking past election victories in hopes of drastically remaking India’s social and political landscape. Their aim is to consolidate a permanent Hindu majority against such real and imagined aliens as Muslims, Christians, liberals, communists, secularists, Western NGOs and independent-minded women.

During this year’s election campaign, Modi attacked the incumbent Congress government for allegedly killing rhinoceroses to clear land in India’s northeast for Bangladeshi Muslim settlers.….

One of their favored memes is the “love jihad” — the term recently employed by a BJP legislator to accuse Muslims of Islamicizing India by impregnating Hindu women. As the writer Sonia Faleiro wrote last month in the New York Times, “consenting adults who have broken no laws have been threatened, beaten up and, in a medieval twist, had their faces painted black by pumped-up bands of roving men.”

Hindu vigilantes, who have long assaulted supposedly immoral women and burned books and paintings, enjoy a new respectability and influence. The books of Dinanath Batra, who led the campaign to pulp Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus,” have been made compulsory reading in Gujarat’s schools, while distinguished historian Romila Thapar, who authored the “Penguin History of Early India,” is abused as a “sickular commie” by mainstream commentators no less than online stalkers………Indeed, a senior BJP leader appealed last month, at Delhi’s prestigious National Museum no less, for a public bonfire of canonical history books. He had previously urged that Muslims be stripped of voting rights until they acknowledge their Hindu ancestry. Both proposals were resoundingly supported by his nearly one million followers on Twitter.

Neo-Hindu tweeters and bloggers who command virtual lynch mobs on social media best embody the nihilist ethos that everything is permitted. India’s public (or at least its online) life suddenly seems dominated by people Simeon bluntly describes as “sociopaths and criminally insane persons … whose lust for power poisons the very air we breathe.”

I had to quote Mishra at length because he raises certain points all of which need to be addressed properly:

1. Love Jihad: I do not understand why the secularists are unwilling to accept that Love Jihad is not about inter-faith love marriages, but more akin to sexual violence and marriage by deceit.

We can begin with former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan (whose ideology Mr. Simeon is in a way sympathetic to) said in July 2010 that Muslim fundamentalists in the state were trying to increase their clout by encouraging conversions.

In an incisive article titled ‘Love Jihad: A Myth or a Mission’, posted on the website of Uday India, a Muslim scholar, Syed Wazid Ali, has given some startling facts based on the statistics of  a survey conducted by the Crime Record Bureau of  Kerala Police and Kochi’s  University of  Advanced Law Studies. The survey revealed that the number of  girls missing from Kerala was 2127 in 2006 and 2560 in 2008.

love jihad

Also Mr. Mishra, do take a look at the IndiaFacts archives which expose the various cases and investigations of Love Jihad which will show the distressing proportions this threat has assumed.

2. History writing: India at the time of Independence had stellar historians like RC Majumdar, Jadunath Sarkar, Neelakantha Shastri among others. But these academics were systematically sidelined by India’s Nehruvian-Left historians and branded as communal and reaction and their works were undermined and consigned to obscurity.

[pullquote]I personally agree that social media should not become a platform to dish out abuses by one side against their opponents but should facilitate hearty debates, but we all know it takes both the right and left hands to give a high-five.[/pullquote]

Under the regulation of the Nehruvian-Left historians, almost all of Indian history went through the process of Marxist revisionism, which intentionally portrayed Hinduism in a negative manner while whitewashing the genocide and persecution of Hindus by medieval Muslim kings.

In response, KM Munshi, founder of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, embarked on a major programme of historical research giving us the monumental History and Culture of the Indian People in 11 volumes. But successive Congress Governments’ patronage-based academia and the ICHR, kept these books away from the mainstream—in the academia and public domain.

The ICHR established was meant ‘to give a national direction to an objective and scientific writing of history and to have rational presentation and interpretation of history’.This objective was exactly identical to that of the Soviet Union which was also known to ‘direct’ research, with the belief that all academic work follows and should follow the Marxist model. Similarly, most of those who ran the ICHR were Marxists or pro-Marxists and it was these scholars who further strengthened the Marxist roots of Indian secularism.

As noted previously, Romila Thapar’s repute as a historian was largely based on the false theory of Aryans invading India which collapsed under rigorous scientific scrutiny. Additionally, she was unsuccessful in her attempt to prove the non-existence of a temple in the disputed site of Ayodhya. Yet she is still included as one of the members of the high-profile Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation(DHUF) primarily due to her political connections.


However, it is inappropriate in a democracy for leaders to demand burning of books, and so far the Narendra Modi government has not conceded to this dreadful demand. As for Dinanath Batra, his antics have been criticized by several academicians whom the Mishras and Simeons label as Hindutvawadis.

3. Abusive tweets: Following the standard secular script, Messrs Mishra and Simeon single out the right-wing netizens of India as embodiments of abusive trolls. To glean the refined and highly cultured comments used against Modi and the BJP on a daily basis on the same social media, I recommend them to take a glimpse at the IndiaFacts feature, the daily Secular Tweet Digest. A sample is provided below:

Amit shah

I personally agree that social media should not become a platform to dish out abuses by one side against their opponents but should facilitate hearty debates, but we all know it takes both the right and left hands to give a high-five.

Besides, Mr. Mishra needs to understand the nature of the Internet—it is unfettered and cannot be controlled. If Mishra and his ilk don’t like what they read on the Internet, they always have the option to: (a) stop visiting such websites (b) block the abusive people on Twitter and elsewhere in the social media.

Pankaj Mishra has skilfully proven yet again that it is not righteous hatred but in the words of R Jagannathan :

[Pankaj Mishra’s] greatest fears are that his voice will now be drowned in the rise of new, more independent, voices that can talk more authoritatively about a changing India.

By the way, Mr. Mishra you must stick to butter chicken wherever you are: in London or Ludhiana. Desi khana keeps you rooted.